Assembly Okay’s Transfer of Rumrunner’s Liquor License

Patrick Flynn

The Anchorage Assembly, last night (Tuesday 12/18), approved a resolution allowing sale of the liquor license belonging to Rumrunner’s Old Towne Bar & Grill, which closed Sunday, to an Anchorage restaurateur.

The Assembly was considering a resolution that would have set a hearing to protest the renewal or transfer of Rumrunner’s liquor license. But attorney Dan Coffey convinced them that that a deal between his client, Restaurateur Bruce Burnett, and the owner of Rumrunners, Basilio Gallo, hinged on the approval of an Assembly resolution allowing sale of the liquor license. Coffey painted a worst case-scenario for downtown without the resolution.

“You’re gonna have an empty building. I’ve talked to three realtors. The shortest period of time they said it would be empty is a year. The longest was two years. I don’t think we want that downtown. We’re asking for your assurances in the form of a resolution before we can do these things before we start spending a lot of money,” Coffey said.

Coffee brought letters of support from the Downtown Community Council, The Anchorage Downtown Parnership and several busienses. Rumrunners closed its doors Sunday after a string of allegations of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) board violations including an attempt to operate a second bar on the premises without a license, repeated and significant calls for police assistance and reports and allegations of security personnel using excessive force. Patrick Flynn, who represents downtown, objected to the resolution, saying it sent the wrong message.

“We cannot, as a community, allow operators to behave as Rumrunners has for years and then not hold then to account. Well Mr. Coffey will offer, well they’re going out of business. Well yeah, they’re getting paid to go out of business,” Flynn said.

After debate, Assembly members amended the resolution to allow sale of the liquor license to Burnett. He has agreed to pay $300,000 for it, along with furniture, fixtures and equipment. The contract also includes the option to purchase the building for $2.5 million. The resolution passed 8 to 3 with Assembly members Patrick Flynn, Harriet Drummond and Elvi Gray-Jackson the ‘no’ votes. Burnett owns the city’s only TGI Friday’s restaurant. He says he hopes to have a casual dining restaurant up and running by summer. The ABC Board still has to approve the liquor license transfer.

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Daysha Eaton is the News Director at KBBI in Homer. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.